THE Land and Environment Court has upheld Camberwell woman Wendy Bowman’s right to refuse a coal company access to her land.
The landmark decision means that Chinese-owned Yancoal cannot proceed with the South East Open Cut mine near Glennies Creek.
The court initially ruled in December that the coal giant must acquire all of Ms Bowman’s 190-hectare property before the project could proceed.
Ms Bowman, a sixth-generation farmer, is refusing to sell the land, which contains about 60 per cent of the coal that would be extracted if the mine went ahead.
The Land and Environment Court recently rejected Yancoal’s appeal of the December decision.
While not a legal precedent, it is the first time such as condition has been imposed on a mining company in relation to an open-cut mine.
‘‘The obvious reason for this, is that it is the first time that the issue has been so rigorously explored before a decision maker in approving a large coal mine development,’’ Environment Defenders Office principal solicitor Sue Higginson said.
“Without this condition being imposed, the mine would have been able to proceed and the rights provided to Ms Bowman under the Mining Act would have [been] token and of no substance, leading to an environmentally unjust outcome.’’
A Yancoal spokesman said the latest court ruling was under review and the company was considering its options.
NSW Minerals Council chief executive Stephen Galilee said it was also reviewing the latest judgment to see if it had wider implications for the industry.
After refusing Yancoal’s application in 2011, the NSW Planning Assessment Commission approved the project a year later.
A resident-led appeal was rejected in August 2013 but the court imposed conditions on its approval. NSW Premier Mike Baird promised to end the ‘‘uncertainty’’ surrounding planning decisions during a trip to the Hunter this week. He also hinted at possible changes to the Planning Assessment Commission.
‘‘Everything can always be better and I think it’s fair to say from a planning context that there are things that weren’t done last term that we’d like to consider going forward,’’ he said.